Miscarriage explained

Honest and reassuring guide to the questions raised by miscarriage

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The miscarriages experienced by Amanda Holden and Kelly Brook have drawn attention to the tragedy that affects one in four women. Read on for an honest and reassuring guide to miscarriage

What causes miscarriage?

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If a miscarriage occurs during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (an early miscarriage), it’s often due to a one-off genetic problem that stops the baby from developing. A late miscarriage – between 14 and 24 weeks – could also be due to infection or problems with the shape of the uterus. If a pregnancy ends after 24 weeks, it is called a stillbirth.

What might cause bleeding?

Around one in 10 women experiences implantation bleeding at around six weeks.It happens as the embryo attaches to the wall of the womb and can cause cramps and light spotting. Ruth Bender Atik, director of the Miscarriage Association, says ‘Always take bleeding seriously and report it to your GP. In some areas of the UK, you may be able to visit an early pregnancy unit and some take self-referrals.

How long should I wait before trying for another baby after miscarrying?

As long as you’re feeling physically recovered, you can start to try again whenever you feel ready. It can be helpful to wait until you have had a period after your miscarriage, because it makes it easier to date another pregnancy, but trying sooner won’t make you miscarry again.

Does my age mean I’m more likely to miscarry again?

It might, because the risk of miscarriage does increase with age – for instance, women under 25 have a 9% risk of miscarrying, while women between 35 and 39 have a 25% risk. Of course, no one can guarantee that it won’t happen again, but you are much more likely to have a healthy pregnancy next time than to have a miscarriage. If you have three or more miscarriages in a row, which happens to about 1% of couples, this is classed as recurrent miscarriage. At this stage, your doctor should refer you for tests to see why you may be miscarrying.

I read about Amanda Holden and Kelly Brook losing their babies in mid to late pregnancy. Is this becoming more common?

Of all miscarriages, about one in 100 happens later in pregnancy. There is no evidence that it is becoming more common. Late miscarriages are more likely to be linked to a health problem with the mum-to-be. Bear in mind that the health problems that can lead to a late pregnancy loss are rare. They include: problems with the womb, hormone issues, a bacterial or viral infection or a vaginal infection.

I’m newly pregnant. Should I stop going to the gym or having sex in case is causes a miscarriage?

There’s no evidence to support claims that sensible exercise during pregnancy is a risk factor. In fact, it’s actually beneficial to both mum and baby, although it’s important not to overdo it. It’s also fine to continue having sex. The baby is very well protected in the amniotic sac and can’t feel a thing.

My husband has been really affected by our miscarriage. Is this normal and what can I do to help him?

Men deal with things differently. He may be feeling very alone but that he has to be ‘strong’ for you. He may not want to talk and he may not be able to, even if he does want to. Try to keep the lines of communication between you open and support each other as much as possible.

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